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When you’re constantly fighting fires and rushing between high-priority initiatives, it’s easy to feel burned out; many of us can barely imagine another 3 years surviving our current roles, let alone the thought of another 30 years in our career.

2023 Conferences & Events Events
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2023 Calendar - Join us in San Francisco and Berlin this year

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This type of “scrappy” leadership—moving initiatives across the line through our own directed effort and sheer force of will (and maybe working on weekends)—can only take us so far. As leaders, we need to balance our scrappiness with efforts that allow us also to operate at scale, creating systems that foster successful teams around us and, importantly, fulfilling long-term careers for ourselves. If scrappy work is what gets us to where we want to be, scale initiatives are what keep us there.

In this talk, I will tell my own story of developing early leadership experience by running toward scrappy work on high-performing engineering teams at The Washington Post and The Atlantic, and I'll share what I’ve learned about the importance of “scale” efforts in growing others and sustaining myself in my work. “Scrappy / Scale” is a framework for interrogating assumptions about how you need to show up as a leader in any given situation and a useful tool for evaluating your own needs and career trajectory. By cultivating these two modes of leadership thinking and the skills required for each, engineering leaders can break free from fire fighting and develop a personal framework for both managing themselves and developing others.